The Office of the Public Guardian for England and Wales (OPG) has admitted to charging excessive fees for the registration of Powers of Attorney documents over the past four year. The OPG was told that it would have to offer partial refunds because it significantly reduced its processing costs.
Between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2017, the OPG charged £110 to process an application, when in fact its costs in issuing the powers of attorney had reduced. Over recent years there has been an increase in people making and registering Lasting Powers of Attorney, which in turn has led to the mistake by the OPG.
The OPG commented saying “Increased volumes, coupled with greater efficiencies in processing applications, have resulted in fees being charged above the operational cost of delivering the service, without the Ministry of Justice having exercised the power provided by legislation to allow us to do this”.
The Government are not permitted to charge above processing costs unless they have specific legislative authority to do so. As such, the government refund scheme has been launched to enable people to claim back the excessive fees they have paid on their power of attorney applications.
The overcharging on the application fees has since been remedied. On 1st April 2017, the OPG reduced the application fee from £110 to £82. The fee is still enhanced, meaning that it is more than the cost of the service, however, the surplus is used to fund wider functions of the OPG that run at a loss.
The scheme has now been launched and each refund is typically between £45 to £54, and is due on application fees for enduring and lasting powers of attorney, repeat applications, and remissions, whether the power of attorney was registered or not. It is believed that the OPG owes a total of £89 million in refunds.
Lasting Powers of Attorney are becoming increasingly important as almost all of us will be affected by issues surrounding mental capacity in some way during our lifetimes, either personally or through a family member or friend. Now with the correction to the registration fee it is something that everyone should strongly consider putting in place.
If you were to become incapable of managing your own finances and personal welfare, a power of attorney allows you to make provisions in advance of deterioration of health to ensure that your affairs are properly dealt with by someone you trust. It provides you with security that you have chosen someone who is capable of making decisions on your behalf.
Our experts provide professional guidance and legal advice in preparing you for your future and ensuring that the service is tailored specifically to your needs. Please contact us on 01625 526 222 to discuss further.
For those applying for a refund full guidance is available online, and there is a dedicated refunds service helpline for those who need it. Call the OPG’s contact centre on 0300 456 0300 and select option 6 to be put through to the refunds team.
Dated: 02/03/2018 by Samantha Kennedy